Annoyance thresholds of tones in noise as related to building services equipment
Tonal sounds are a particular problem of concern in building environments, arising from the widely used rotating machinery (e.g., compressors, fans, motors, trans- formers, etc.). In the recent trend of designing and manufacturing high-performance building mechanical systems, higher output power and higher rotation speed are pursued, this inevitably results in a more severe noise problem, since the equipment noise not only becomes louder but also shifts to a higher frequency region (which, in most cases, results in a poorer sound quality due to the shift in spectral balance and tonal components moving into the frequency regions where people are most sensitive to tones). Tonal sounds from rotary machines can be annoying, even at relative low levels.
Currently, noise criteria guidelines in Chapter 48 of the ASHRAE HVAC Applications Handbook can be used to design the building mechanical system, but this does not apply well for tonal noise. Reducing the limit for noise with perceptible tones is one common strategy in the industry. However, it’s not adequate for some cases, over-design in others. Thus, an adequate understanding of the annoyance threshold of tonal noises associated with building services equipment is valuable technical information not only in the design and manufacture of machines but also in the development of noise regulations related to building services equipment.
This research aims to develop a sound quality model that cooperates with sound level and tonalness and relates tonal building noises to the perceived annoyance.